Augusta Futurity kicks off Saturday

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The Augusta Futurity kicks off in six days with one of the city’s most anticipated annual events.

The USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship kicks off the show at 8 p.m. Saturday at James Brown Arena. The indoor competition features some of the nation’s best bulls and bull riders.

“It’s still one of the hottest tickets in town,” USC Aiken baseball coach and event organizer Kenny Thomas said. “It’s still a popular event, one everybody looks forward to.”

The bull riding event kicks off the 33rd year of the Augusta Futurity. The largest cutting horse show east of the Mississippi River features a full schedule of events that runs through Jan. 28.

Futurity marketing director Noell Inman said entries are up this year, though there’s no concrete number of entries yet because futurity officials still are accepting entries through Saturday.

The biggest competition this year is the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a newcomer to the Augusta Futurity. Competitors in the Open and Non-Pro classes will vie for a share of the $50,000 in added money – $25,000 per class.

The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting is making the Augusta Futurity its first stop on its season-long 2012 circuit. The event, which begins Jan. 24 and is open to horses of all ages, is expected to bring high scores from competitors.

On Jan. 25, longtime Augusta Futurity competitor Mel Blount, a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame defensive back, will hold a clinic at 6 p.m. Blount will hold a cutting demonstration before giving an inspirational speech afterward for area students.

The futurity will hold Augusta Warrior Night, Jan. 27, to honor the military. A group of 3,000 retired and active-duty military personnel will be in attendance, along with the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band.

This year’s Augusta Futurity also features many popular standards as well. The following Saturday, the annual horse sale returns after a one-year absence. Also on Jan. 28 the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, a free event which features live music and a petting zoo, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Seventh Street Plaza side of James Brown Arena.

Futurity Details

All cutting horse events Saturday through Jan. 28, held inside James Brown Arena. All events start at 9 a.m., unless noted.

SATURDAY: USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship, 8 p.m.

JAN. 22: Open Jackpot.

JAN. 23: Go-round of Classic Open.

JAN. 24: Go-round of Futurity Open, followed by go-round of Mercuria World Series Non-Pro, followed by go-round of Mercuria World Series Open.

JAN. 25: Go-round of Classic Non-Pro, followed by go-round of Futurity Non-Pro. Mel Blount Clinic, 6 p.m.

JAN. 26: Go-round of $35,000 Non-Pro Any Age, followed by go-round of $100,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds, followed by finals of $35,000 Non-Pro Any Age, followed by finals $100,000 Amateur for 5/6-Year-Olds. Mercuria World Series Non-Pro finals, 6:30 p.m., followed by Mercuria World Series Open finals, followed by Augusta’s Top Cowboy.

JAN. 27: Go-round of $50,000 Amateur Any Age, followed by go-round of $100,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Old, followed by finals of $50,000 Amateur Any Age, followed by finals of $100,000 Amateur for 4-Year-Old. Area 18 Youth Scholarship finals, 6:30 p.m., followed by Classic Non-Pro finals, followed by Classic Open finals.

JAN. 28: Augusta Futurity Horse Sale, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wrangler Family Fun Fest, James Brown Arena plaza, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ACCHA Subscribed Stallion Stakes Auction, 2 p.m. Opening ceremonies, 7 p.m., followed by Futurity Non-Pro finals, followed by Futurity Open finals.

TICKETS

GENERAL ADMISSION DAYTIME PASS (JAN. 22-28): $9 adults, $2 children 12 or younger

GENERAL ADMISSION FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BULL RIDING COMPETITION: $17-21 adults, $9 children 12 and under (limited upper level seating).

RESERVED SEATING FOR CSRA NIGHT, JAN. 26: $14.50 adults, $5 children

RESERVED SEATING FOR CLASSIC FINALS, JAN. 27: $14.50 adults, $5 children

RESERVED SEATING FOR FUTURITY FINALS, JAN. 28: $16.50 adults, $5 children

GOLD TICKET: $35 for all daytime events (until 6:30 p.m.), Jan. 22-28, and Thursday night (Jan. 26).

TO PURCHASE TICKETS: Georgialinatix (877) 428-4849 or James Brown Arena (706) 262-4567. Credit cards accepted, $4.50 per ticket plus three percent per order for handling. Cash or charge at James Brown Arena, no handling fee.

ONLINE: www.augustafuturity.com, www.georgialinatix.com

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